Sunday, July 19, 2009
Five Essentials of Technology Facilitators
I encourage anyone that is, or works with, a technology facilitator to take a look at the Tech & Learning article, "The Five Essentials of Technology Facilitators: Successful On-Site Help for Technology Integration". It was written by Cheryl Whitfield back in 2005, so it is a little older, but I like the view of the position that it gives the reader.
According to the article, there are five things anyone hired for a technology facilitator position should possess. Those are:
1. Experience in teaching. Our state actually requires 3 years of experience and I truly believe in this. As a technology facilitator, I have to be aware of the constraints of the classroom and understand how things are run from a teacher's and a student's perspective before I can effectively integrate technology into the school.
2. Enthusiastic Technophile. I love her choice of words here and can't say enough about how you need to be excited about technology AND be willing to explore and find new tools in the field. One of the saddest things I see in my position are technology facilitators that refuse to change. Working in technology, you have to accept that your job will always be changing and you need to be the driving force of that change by exploring all the options available.
3. Effective Trainer. I hear teachers say all the time that they just don't understand the way some "technology people" talk. As a TF, you need to be able to talk on a non-techie level and mentor teachers in the way they are familiar. I'm also learning now that it is important every once in a while to re-evaluate your presentation skills. Some times we get into our own little groove of doing things and forget what the real goal is. Take some time to read a book on presentation or take some tips from an excellent presenter to make sure you're still on the right track.
4. Eager Mentor. I see the non-eager mentor quite often in my line of work (and have honestly been guilty of it myself at times). This part, in my opinion, is one of the most important. People need to feel comfortable coming to you and know that you're going to do what you can to help them. Being approachable in this position is so important because not only will it help the teachers in your school, but it will also help them to trust you when you are selling them those new tools we talked about in #2 above!
5. Excellent Administrator. To be quite honest, when taking this position the first time, I had no idea how close this job is to being an administrative position. Now that I've been in it for a while, it becomes even more so as I work closer with the administrative team. I'm not totally sure this article explains the administrative duties quite like I had expected, so I will add a few things here myself. I believe the TF needs to be a leader, and not just any leader, but a good one who is not scared to look a tough situation in the face and push through. A TF also needs great communication skills and be willing to put those to work to sell new ideas to students, teachers, administrators and sometimes even district leaders or school board members. And the last thing I'd like to add is flexibility. One of the things I love most about my job is that when I walk through the front door in the morning, I have no idea what the day will bring. One minute I could be helping a student log into a computer and the next figuring out how I'm going to spend a thousand dollars by the end of the day. There are a wide range of tasks given to the technology facilitator and we need to be able to accept those and easily move from one to another depending on importance.
The position of the technology facilitator is always changing. I feel it is important, however, to keep these 5 fundamental parts in our minds and make sure we are keeping in tune with the overall idea of what we should be doing on a daily basis.